Fandom: Life on Mars
Word Count: 650 words.
Notes: Gen, written for the 'background' challenge at 1973flashfic. Title from the Thomas Hardy poem 'The Voice'.
Summary: The voices started on Tuesday.
The voices started on Tuesday. At first he thought it was a practical joke. Phyllis would have told the others about his strange obsession with broken radios at some point, she wasn't built for secrets, and someone --- probably Ray, maybe Gene --- would think it hi-fucking-larious to mock him.
They were quiet, to begin with. The voices. Background noise, really. Just one or two internal musings from those closest to him. Innocuous things that were more amusing than anything else.
'Should I order the number fifteen or the number seven?'
'He looks a right pillock in that vest.'
'So, I make a loop and tie the lace around, then somehow pull the other part of the lace through the gap. No, it's... can't do anything right... I'll use two loops. Two loops is easier.'
When everyone had gone home, Sam looked for the broadcasting devices, but couldn't find them. Seemed his training and development sessions in surveillance and espionage had had some uses. He was almost impressed.
It got louder on Wednesday. Enough that Sam graduated to pressing his palms against his ears. There were more voices, from more people. People he didn't even know. It was on Wednesday that he began to realise that the joke wasn't being made by any of his colleagues. The voices continued unabated, no matter his actions.
'Cocky little bastard thinks he knows everything.'
'Seventeen plus nineteen is...'
'...and every step I take takes me further from heaven...'
This was when worry crept up on Sam and grabbed him in a stranglehold.
He tried to dull the sound with alcohol. It didn't work. The voices just became less coherent, more fluid, louder, like they were screaming for an attention that was being denied. Sam looked at his co-workers, glasses in hand. Thought about thinking being ignored. It made sense.
"You're looking green about the gills," Gene said, laden with attitude. "I warn you, if you even contemplate sicking up on my loafers, you'll have one of them so far up your arse you'll write odes to the wonders of reincarnated regurgitation."
'I'll give him two more minutes and if he's still worse for wear, I'm taking him home. Reckon I could fit another three in if I try hard enough.'
On Thursday, Sam wasn't going to get out of bed, thinking he'd be safe, but the voices amplified. Sam struggled to hear himself over the din.
'the world is expects me to pay thirteen pounds for that, I ask you disintegrating, the clouds look dark, gonna rain walls are screaming, screaming, all this screaming, shut it tumbling down'
The bed wasn't safe, but he couldn't escape it, because, because, because...
Late on Thursday, there was some kind of crash in amongst the words. Something warm and solid hoisted him out of bed. He opened his eyes to see a mouth opening from having been pressed into a straight, thin line, and then there was just shouting.
'WHY'S HE ALWAYS THE TARGET? BLOODY BASTARDS. THE TWERP PROBABLY ASKS FOR IT. SHIT, HE BETTER NOT BE DYING. DON'T DIE, SAM, YOU PILLOCK.'
"Sam? Sam, can you hear me? You need to drink some water. Stop talking and drink, you're not making any sense."
There was the sting of a slap, and her next door was annoyed about the plumbing, the bloke upstairs had run out of milk, there was a man walking down the street who'd been stood up, and Gene, Gene was just worried, but there was nothing to be concerned about, was there, because he wasn't real and real things couldn't feel concern.
On Friday, Sam stared up at the hospital ceiling, listening to pain and death.
'I wish... the dark... ten milligrams... more sheet cleaning... it hurts, it hurts, it hurts... pen's stopped... woman much missed... is this it... he'll have me strung up... god, that's disgus... he'll never know how I... the end.'
There was no Saturday.